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More than just cleaning17th of May 2011
Oleg Popov, director general for Cristanval cleaning company in Russia, explains how many businesses are now adding other services to their portfolio.
Cleaning in Russia is much more than cleaning. The list of services provided by an average cleaning company now usually grows longer year by year, and not only because of new cleaning services being added. Once it wins a big client, a company tends to surround that contract with a range of other varied services.
Additional services particularly justify themselves with regard to the 'distressed contracts', as we call the those contracts which bring very low profit, just two or three per cent. These contracts have become more and more of a problem because of the recent economic crisis, forcing cleaning companies to reduce their rates by at least 20 per cent.
The trend towards providing clients with other services apart from cleaning first emerged around the year 2005. By this year Russian business could appreciate the true value and the advantages of oursourcing partnerships - hence the demand for them has already been created.
Typical situation: when the cleaning company’s client prepares to outsource another business process (for instance catering), he prefers to outsource it to 'his' cleaning company - even if it’s only just taking the first steps towards offering catering services - than to deal with someone new, even if they are more experienced in that area. It’s just a matter of Russian business psychology – trust is more important here than professional skills. So when the client trusts the cleaning company and feels comfortable in communicating with it, there will be always more tasks for the cleaning company.
So because of this, Russia’s large cleaning operators offer package solutions, aspiring to become a fully integrated contractor for their clients and grow into large enterprises. Year by year the share of the business accounted for by pure cleaning is reducing, because other directions are developing. In some cases cleaning is now not more than 50 per cent of total turnover.
At the moment four or five leading cleaning companies offer additional kinds of service. These include organisation of fixed catering facilities, supervision of engineering systems operation, personnel outsourcing, provision of office supplies, waste removal, etc.
One of the most popular directions is 'outstaffing' - transfer of personnel from the client’s payroll to the cleaning company’s payroll, with the subsequent secondment of this personnel back to the client. This kind of service is in particularly great demand by retail chains. Since retail chains account for the largest share of cleaning companies' revenues, this is very logical.
Small cleaning companies, which earn most of their income from window cleaning in the spring, offer many household services – for instance, home appliances repair. There is a new kind of service called 'a husband for an hour'. Many women – even the married ones – order this service at times when they need to fix a shelf, change broken lamps in high ceilings, collect furniture or check the plumbing system.